A Tignish town councillor’s research results last month into winter sidewalk clearing costs drew five residents to the town’s pre-budget information session Monday night.
They were there to express concerns about adding a service that might result in a municipal tax rate increase.
Mayor Allan McInnis quickly set their minds at ease, assuring the residents sidewalk clearing is not included in the numbers councilors are using to draw up the budget. “It’s not in the budget; it’s not going to happen,” he said.
McInnis said Councillor John McInnis gathered figures in response to a discussion that arose on social media over whether the town should be clearing its sidewalks.
The mayor estimated 70 per cent of the people who were expressing a desire to have the sidewalks cleared were not residents of the town. And, while he said he appreciates having them wanting to use the sidewalks, he pointed out it is the residents who would end up paying for the service through their taxes.
“It’s like anything,” said resident Larry Doyle. “If there’s lots of money it’s great to do anything,” but he felt the money is not there for council to look at clearing the sidewalks. He said sidewalk clearing has been voted down twice by Council. He wondered if the matter keeps coming back up until Council says yes. Councillor Angel Murphy said Council looked at the item again because people were expressing interest, but she added, “Nobody is really crying to have sidewalks cleaned.”
The mayor said he can’t see it being revisited at least until the next annual budget meeting.
Residents were accepting that major upgrades to the town’s lagoon system will result in a sewer rate increase. Mayor McInnis told them the size of the hike has not been set yet by the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission but he admitted that with 50 per cent of the cost covered by the federal government and 25 per cent by the provincial government, the town is still left with a $400,000 share of the $1.6 million project. “Will it be up substantial? Yeah, I’m assuming it will be,” he said.
The budget is still in draft form, suggesting $687,117.15 in expenditures and a corresponding amount for revenue for the 15-month period ending March 31, 2019. Council will vote on the final numbers on March 27.